Best Interests Assessor Module

Key Facts

Course Title: Best Interests Assessor Module (Masters level 30 credits)
Course type: CPD Module and elective module in Safeguarding Adults:Law, Policy and Practice
Mode of Study:Part Time
Contact Details:Postgraduate Administrator
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Law


Keele University School of Law is approved by the Department of Health Secretary of State as a Best Interest Assessor training provider.

Best Interests Assessors are responsible for conducting assessments and applications for deprivation of liberty authorisations. This area of professional practice has grown significantly and there is demand for suitably qualified practitioners. This module will prepare you to undertake the role of Best Interests Assessor (BIA) when considering a deprivation of liberty, employed by a local or health authority or as an independent BIA. The module includes detailed consideration of the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and relevant law, guidance and caselaw applicable to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. Participants will shadow a Best Interests Assessor conducting an assessment and reflect on the assessment process.

On completion of the module you will have the skills and knowledge required to ensure competent performance as a Best Interests Assessor. You will also have 30 M Level Credits and the option to apply to our Postgraduate Diploma / MA in Safeguarding Adults: Law, Policy and Practice programme. If you choose to apply to this programme the credits from the BIA module will be accredited and will contribute towards the requirements for the PgDip/MA.

Prospective applicants are very welcome to contact the Module Leader, Laura Pritchard-Jones, to discuss the module.

Aims of the Course

The module aims and objectives are consistent with the Best Interests Assessor Capabilities specified by the College of Social Work.

On completion of the module you will be equipped with the ability to:
•    apply in practice, and maintain knowledge of, relevant legal and policy frameworks
•    work in a manner congruent with the presumption of capacity
•    take all practical steps to help someone to make a decision
•    balance a person’s right to autonomy and self-determination with their right to safety, and respond proportionately
•    make informed, independent best interest decisions within the context of a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) assessment
•    effectively assess risk in complex situations, and use analysis to make proportionate decisions

Entry Requirements

The Best Interests Assessor module is designed for practitioners with a minimum of two years post-qualifying experience who wish to undertake the role of Best Interest Assessor.

Prospective applicants are very welcome to contact the Course Director, Laura Pritchard-Jones, to discuss the course.

Course Content

The module will lead you through a detailed analysis of the legal framework for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) including the key principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the test of capacity, provisions enabling support and intervention, and we'll cover a range of other key aspects including:

  • the legal and policy framework underpinning the BIA role;
  • the DOLS assessment framework and six assessments;
  • the concept of deprivation of liberty;
  • relevant case law pre and post ‘Cheshire West’; 
  • the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998;
  • value frameworks for ethical practice;
  • the role of the Court of Protection;
  • related relevant legislation including the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Care Act 2014;
  • mental disorders;
  • risk assessment and management in the context of mental capacity;
  • communication and assessment skills.

Teaching and Assessment


The module is delivered over a four day teaching block, followed by a shadowing opportunity and a further teaching day. This is supplemented with web based support. Teaching methods are largely interactive including seminar discussions, lecture presentations, caselaw analysis, DOLS documentation exercises and skills workshops.

The module is taught by staff from the School of Law, other Schools and visiting speakers, including experienced practitioners and service users.

The School has a distinctive profile in UK legal education and a long-standing reputation in research which draws on socio-legal perspectives and makes a difference in society. In REF 2014, 53% of the School's impact work was world leading placing us 15th nationally for world-leading impact work.

Students benefit from excellent facilities in the School of Law including a dedicated study room and IT equipment, and student social spaces.


The pass mark for the module is 50%. Assessment is in two parts:

A Case study of 4000 words (70% of the marks):

A decided case for the Court of Protection or other relevant court will be analysed in terms of its impact on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) and the role of the Best Interests Assessor (BIA). This will include detailed discussion of related decisions in the context of the framework of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

By Coursework (30% of the marks):

Students will shadow a BIA in the course of an assessment for a Deprivation of Liberty Authorisation, complete a mock application form for a Deprivation of Liberty Authorisation (suitably anonymised) in respect of the case shadowed and a reflective account of the assessment process. Students will be employees of local authority social services departments or health authorities and as such are subject to the requirements of the professional regulatory body, the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) regarding confidentiality and other ethical matters. Employers will provide the shadowing experience with a senior co-employee already qualified as a Best Interests Assessor.

Additional Costs

There are no expected additional costs.

This is a sample of comments from students on the SALPP course:


'Variety of subjects covered, excellent contributions from colleagues, interesting guest speakers, very professional co-ordination'

'This was a well put together MA, the combination of elements, ethics, law, social policy etc was such a strength- I know I have gained so much from the first year professionally and personally'

'Course leader has been excellently supportive - I can't fault her'

'Thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it highly relevant to my area of practice'

'I am very proud to be in the first cohort of the first MA of its kind in England'

'In general the course has been stimulating and thought provoking'

'Course content useful and very interesting, excellent handouts. Again lecture vs discussion good and the knowledge within the group assisted with learning'

'Great to examine and learn how to start critically analysing policy and again see how it links with legislation and practice'

'There has been some utterly fascinating discussion and debate, sharing practice experiences that I have totally enjoyed'